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2018-07-17. Jupiter’s moon count reaches 79, including tiny ‘oddball’.

posted Jul 19, 2018, 6:32 PM by Alan Gould
By Emiliano Rodriguez Mega, Associated Press. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7. Excerpt: Astronomers are still finding moons at Jupiter, 400 years after Galileo used his spyglass to spot the first ones. The latest discovery of a dozen small moons brings the total to 79, the most of any planet in our solar system. Scientists were looking for objects on the fringes of the solar system last year when they pointed their telescopes close to Jupiter’s backyard, according to Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington. They saw a new group of objects moving around the giant gas planet but didn’t know whether they were moons or asteroids passing near Jupiter. ...The team is calling one of the new moons an ‘oddball’ because of its unusual orbit. Sheppard’s girlfriend came up with a name for it: Valetudo, the great-granddaughter of the Roman god Jupiter. Valetudo is in Jupiter’s distant, outer swarm of moons that circles in the opposite direction of the planet’s rotation. Yet it’s orbiting in the same direction as the planet, against the swarm’s traffic. “This moon is going down the highway the wrong way,” Sheppard said. Scientists believe moons like Valetudo and its siblings appeared soon after Jupiter formed. The planet must have acted like a vacuum, sucking up all the material that was around it. Some of that debris was captured as moons.... https://apnews.com/5604f183641342f1ad7f99f2ce665181